The Weekly Wrap: By Royal Acclaim

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Silver Wokingham winner Chiefofchiefs is by Royal Applause, whose sireline was represented by seven winners at Ascot | Racing Post

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Back in April, when major sporting events across the world were being cancelled left, right and centre, the management team at the Queen’s racecourse took the decision that, if racing had resumed in time, Royal Ascot would go ahead behind closed doors. The announcement was met with incredulity in some quarters, particularly by those keen to blame the spread of coronavirus on the Cheltenham Festival, but thank goodness Ascot stuck to its resolve to go ahead, even in extraordinary circumstances.

Of course the meeting lost some of its lustre, just as the Classics have done so far, with none of the pomp and circumstance which usually accompanies the racing, but the racing is, after all, what Ascot is really about. The extended fixture, with its extra six races, provided plenty of stories that were heartwarming enough to have us believing that all is right with the world again. Well, almost.

A Burst of Applause
For no better reason than the fact that the horse who has been my beloved daily companion for the last 14 years is a son of Royal Applause (GB) I’ve always had a soft spot for the 1997 G1 Haydock Sprint Cup winner. At 27, Royal Applause is living in retirement at the Royal Studs, an appropriate venue for a sire who played a significant role in the paternal line of seven of the 36 winners at Royal Ascot.

By the final day the old boy was represented in his own right, when his 7-year-old son Chiefofchiefs (GB) gave trainer Charlie Fellowes his second winner of the meeting in the Silver Wokingham. Ahead of that, however, the stallion most responsible for the blossoming of this line in recent years, Dark Angel (Ire), had provided one of the most explosive winners of the week in the sprint star Battaash (Ire), as well as Art Power (Ire) and Mountain Angel (Ire). The last-named and Battaash are both 6-year-olds and represent one of Dark Angel’s great strengths as a stallion in the apparent durability of his stock.

Dark Angel’s sire Acclamation (GB) of course deserves plenty of credit. Runner-up to Choisir (Aus) in the G2 King’s Stand S. of 2003, the 21-year-old’s top-rated performer is Equiano (Fr), the dual winner of that same race after its upgrading to Group 1 status. Equiano in turn is the sire of Equilateral (GB), who chased home Battaash in the King’s Stand this year, while another of Acclamation’s sons, Harbour Watch (Ire), made a posthumous contribution through the thrilling G2 King Edward VII S. victory of Pyledriver (GB), who may now be a rare Derby runner for this sireline.

There are now at least nine sons of Dark Angel at stud in Europe, and two of those also provided winners at Ascot. The G1 Commonwealth Cup winner Golden Horde (Ire) lives in the stable once occupied by his sire Lethal Force (Ire) at Clive Cox’s Lambourn yard. He brought further fitting success for that stable on Friday when becoming the first Group 1 winner for his sire, who moved from Cheveley Park Stud to Haras de Grandcamp for the 2020 covering season.

Furthermore, Mickley Stud’s Heeraat (Ire) got the ball rolling for a hugely successful week for his former owner Sheikh Hamdan when his son Motakhayyel (GB) won the opening race of the meeting in the Shadwell blue and white.

Dark Angel has two sons with first-crop runners this season: Tara Stud’s Estidhkaar (Ire), who has already sired three winners, and Markaz (Ire), the full-brother to the brilliant mare Mecca’s Angel (Ire) who is at Derrinstown and got off the mark with his first winner on Sunday.

Success For O’Callaghan Clan
Bred by Gay and Annette O’Callaghan’s Yeomanstown Stud, Dark Angel returned there for his stud career but this was not the only O’Callaghan-owned stud to have plenty to celebrate during Royal Ascot. Gay’s brother Tony owns Tally-Ho Stud with his wife Anne and sons Roger and Henry, and the farm’s flagship stallion Kodiac (GB) enjoyed a terrific finale to Ascot with three group winners on Saturday.

The Tally-Ho Stud-bred Campanelle (Ire) started the treble with her victory in the G2 Queen Mary S. for Wesley Ward, who trains the Tattersalls October Book 1 graduate for Barbara Banke.

A juvenile Group 2 double was completed by the outsider Nando Parrado (GB), who was bred by Anita Wigan and again showcased the talents of Clive Cox and Adam Kirby in winning the G2 Coventry S. At 150/1, the colt became the longest-priced winner in the history of the Royal Meeting and if his victory surprised many, his trainer wasn’t one of them.

“Nando Parrado is a proper horse and we loved him from the start,” Cox said. “This was always the plan, it was just a sideways step on his first run. He came home and thrived from there, and then when the rain came earlier in the week, I knew he would be better on good or slower ground than quicker ground.”

Nando Parrado runs in the colours of Marie McCartan, who, with husband Paul, owns Ballyphilip Stud. The couple had already been represented as winning breeders at Royal Ascot through Battaash, and they have enjoyed a particularly fruitful association with Cox over the years. The trainer bought subsequent dual Group 1 winner Xtension (Ire) (Xaar {GB}) from Ballyphilip as a yearling for €15,000 in 2008 and, seven years later, he returned to the same source to spend £44,000 on a Dark Angel colt who would become known as Harry Angel (Ire) and go on to win the G1 July Cup and G1 Haydock Sprint Cup.

Kodiac’s memorable day was completed by Hello Youmzain (Fr)’s victory in the G1 Diamond Jubilee S., giving young jockey Kevin Stott both his first Group 1 win and his first victory at Royal Ascot. Like London buses, Stott and trainer Kevin Ryan struck again in the very next race when Hey Jonesy (Ire) (Excelebration {Ire}) stuck his nose out to win the Wokingham. The 4-year-old Hello Youmzain, who races for the partnership of France’s Haras d’Etreham and New Zealand’s Cambridge Stud, quite clearly already has a dual-hemisphere stallion career mapped out for him.

Roger O’Callaghan, who will offer three Kodiac 2-year-olds among an eight-strong Tally-Ho Stud draft for this week’s Tattersalls Ascot and Craven Breeze-up Sale, said of Saturday’s results, “It was mighty, unreal. It was beyond our expectations really, and I am also delighted for Joe Foley and for Yeomanstown, it was a great week for the Irish stallion industry.”

Fine And Dandy
As noted by O’Callaghan above, the joy for Ireland’s independently owned studs didn’t end with the O’Callaghan family. Joe Foley enjoyed a juvenile group-race double on Friday for his Ballyhane Stud stallions through The Lir Jet (Ire) and Dandalla (Ire), representing the first-season sire Prince Of Lir (Ire)—himself a former winner of the G2 Norfolk S.—and the established Dandy Man (Ire).

The Lir Jet, who was bought by Qatar Bloodstock after his debut win at Yarmouth, might be considered to be the one who got away for the Tattersalls Ascot Breeze-up Sale, which makes a belated appearance this week.

Foley bought the colt as a foal from his breeder Donal Boylan for €9,500 and then sold him for £8,000 at the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale to breeze-up pinhooker Robson Aguiar. With the sales season delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Aguiar took the sensible decision to do a deal with Nick Bell which enabled The Lir Jet to make the most of his precocity by racing from the Newmarket stable of Bell’s father Michael. Now, while many of his fellow sales entries are breezing on the Rowley Mile on Monday ahead of Thursday’s sale, The Lir Jet is already a Group 2 winner who has given an important boost to his young sire.

“The warm, fuzzy feeling hasn’t worn off yet,” Foley said on Sunday. “The Lir Jet had no lookers at the yearling sale except for Robson. I’ve bought two good breezers from Robson for Clipper Logistics in recent years, so I admire and respect him. I strongly encouraged him to buy the colt last year at Doncaster and Robson, to his credit, told me in February this year that he was a stakes horse at least. Then he kept improving his prediction as the months passed and he told me six weeks ago that he was a group horse for sure and a very good horse. Robson is obviously a very switched-on fella and I’m delighted for him that he has proven to be correct.”

He continued, “When Sheikh Fahad’s team were thinking of buying him they contacted me and asked what I thought of him and I gave them some encouragement to go ahead a buy him. The nice irony is that they also bought Extortionist from Dandy Man’s first crop and he won the Windsor Castle and was a fantastic fillip in Dandy Man’s first season, and I’m really pleased for Sheikh Fahad, David Redvers and Oisin Murphy that they have now had this success with The Lir Jet.”

Foley added,” It’s also fantastic for his breeder Donal Boylan. I’ve never met him as he’s based in Hong Kong but he’s a really nice man and keeps his mares with Brian O’Neill at Rockton Stud. [The Lir Jet’s dam] Paper Dreams was the first mare he ever sent to me.”

Credit Due To Crowley And King
While there were many performances of merit throughout the meeting at which Frankie Dettori and John Gosden topped the leading jockey and trainer lists, two men who deserve special mention both first made their names in the National Hunt division but are very much at home at Flat racing’s top table.

We have an interview with Jim Crowley running later in the week in TDN but his six winners for his boss Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum must be noted here as they put him on level-pegging with the more flamboyant Dettori. It would actually be hard to think of a more unassuming member of the weighing-room than Crowley, who rode over jumps before turning to the Flat more than 10 years ago. In 2016 he was crowned champion jockey, a month before he was signed up as number one rider to Sheikh Hamdan. In fact, three of the jockey’s Royal Ascot winners were provided by two of his former jumps weighing-room colleagues, Roger Varian and Owen Burrows, who celebrated his first win at the meeting with Shadwell’s Hukum (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}).

Alan King would be more readily identified as a National Hunt trainer but he has long had notable success with his Flat runners and his team of five sent up the M4 from his Barbury Castle base to Ascot included three winners and a runner-up. King won the closing race on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday with the dual-purpose performers Coeur De Lion (GB) (Pour Moi {Ire}), Scarlet Dragon (GB) (Sir Percy {GB}) and Who Dares Wins (Ire) (Jeremy). The last two named, both owned by Henry Ponsonby Racing, provided first victories at the meeting for Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand, two of the rising stars of the weighing-room.

For the second time in the week, the late and much missed Kevin Mercer was brought to mind when the admirable Scarlet Dragon won his eighth race. Like Pyledriver, he was bred at the Mercer family’s Usk Valley Stud, where Pyledriver’s dam La Pyle previously boarded for Mercer’s friends and fellow breeders Roger Devlin and Guy and Hugh Leach. The trio has enjoyed extraordinary success with their first homebred, whose mating was advised by Mercer, and with Pyledriver heading towards Epsom for the Derby the fun may have only just begun.

Stradivarius A National Treasure
We started this column with speed and we’ll end with the star stayer, Bjorn Nielsen’s mighty Stradivarius (Ire), who is more than deserving of having the last word dedicated to him.

His fourth consecutive Royal Ascot triumph was the highlight of a good week for his sire Sea The Stars (Ire), who was also represented by Hukum (GB) and the impressive G2 Hardwicke S. winner Fanny Logan (GB) as well as featuring as grandsire of Alpine Star (Ire), who became the first Group 1 winner for her sire Sea The Moon (Ger) in the Coronation S.

With three Gold Cups among his 15 victories to date, Stradivarius is guaranteed his place in racing’s history books and he also, eventually, deserves a place at a good Flat stud. Where better for him to stand when his time comes to retire than at the National Stud, where many visitors would also be able to glimpse one of the most popular racehorses of the modern era?

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